Outside the Box: Sir Stan's magic boots are more special than throwaway Jose

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Premier League winner's medal that Jose Mourinho tossed into the Stamford Bridge crowd four years ago may have fetched £16,800 at Bonhams' auction in Chester on Wednesday, but that sale was dwarfed by Sir Stanley Matthews' boots from the 1953 FA Cup final. The footwear that dazzled Bolton in a 4-3 victory to bring Sir Stan a Cup medal at last went to a private collector for a stunning £38,400 – some five times the estimate – despite the National Football Museum in Preston claiming they have the originals. In contrast, the match card for the 1902 FA Cup final replay, featured here a fortnight ago, went for £13,500 at the Sporting Gold auction, some £6,500 lower than estimated, while the 1924 FA Cup final programme was sold for £5,000.

Oh you of little FA-ith

As for this year's FA Cup and all those boots of many colours, Sky Sports clearly have little faith in Tottenham or Birmingham coming through the sixth round. For the semi-final on 10-11 April, they have scheduled Tottenham versus Arsenal and Manchester City against Birmingham as their televised Premier League games without so much as a "provisional" in the listings. Most observers would give Birmingham (at Portsmouth) and Spurs (at Fulham) a fair chance of going through. At least Manchester United's League game at Blackburn on Sunday 11 April will be safe, as for the first time since 1998 there are no Lancashire clubs among the last eight. Sky could still end up looking for alternatives for the Saturday lunchtime and Sunday 4pm games; Hull v Burnley anyone? An Outside the Box reader points out the pleasing symmetry of the quarter-final draw, which pitches four teams who have won the Cup (Aston Villa, Portsmouth, Chelsea and Tottenham) against four teams who have never done so (Fulham, Birmingham, Reading and Stoke).

Mariners prove quite a catch

More on the Cup. Old Trafford reached its 100th anniversary with a quirk in its attendance records: the biggest crowd ever was for a game not involving Manchester United at all but, er, Grimsby Town. The attendance for the Mariners' FA Cup semi-final against Wolves (who won 5-0) in April 1939 was 76,962, 864 more than United's record, for a Premier League game with Blackburn three years ago, which cannot be beaten until the ground's capacity is increased. Question for United anoraks: what is the largest crowd at the Theatre of Dreams to see a reserve game? Answer: 73,709 for United 3 Wolves Reserves 0 in December. The return game is on Saturday, when Mick McCarthy is expected to pick a rather stronger side.

Ebb and flow of Ebbsfleet

Happier times, at least on the pitch, for Ebbsfleet United, the Blue Square Premier club that made history when it was bought by 32,000 internet-based members of the site MyFootballClub.com just over two years ago. Numbers have again dropped off and, after last week's renewal date, are down to some 4,500 paying either £50 or £100 per year, but the team have hit a purple patch and, going into yesterday's home game with Barrow, had won five matches out of six (results and table, page 15). The next couple of months are therefore more crucial off the pitch than on it; the current sponsorship deal with Eurostar ends in May and all players' contracts are up at the end of the season, making them free agents. A share issue is a possibility to avoid a repetition of last summer, when all but five of the squad left.

s.tongue@independent.co.uk

Comments